“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16)
Earlier this month, the leadership team from our two churches, along with teams from other churches in Pennsylvania and Delaware, attended a conference on church renewal. At one point, the leader shared a challenge from the book, The Art of Neighboring, encouraging us to get to know nine of our neighbors.
It struck me that, living in Philadelphia, we had an advantage over the others there, who lived in suburban and rural areas. I know, from having grown up in small towns, that the distance between two neighboring houses in those towns could easily be equal to the distance between my current house in Philadelphia and nine of my neighbors!
And yet, I had to ask myself: Do I really know my neighbors?
An expert in the Law once asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”, and Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37). I suggest that we ask ourselves that question in a different context: Who are our neighbors, really? What are their dreams? What are their needs? How can I show the love of Christ to them?
As Christians, we acknowledge God’s purpose in every area of our lives, and we acknowledge our responsibility to be faithful to that purpose on a daily basis, in our day-to-day lives. We’re familiar with the Great Commission that Jesus gave us, to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” (Matthew 28:19), but let us not forget the commission that he gave to the man whom he delivered from a legion of demons, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19)
How well do you know your neighbors? How well do they know you and how much the Lord has done for you? Let us commit to making the most of every opportunity to share the love and light of Jesus with the world that’s right next door to us.